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Choosing a Tech 2 spec

I’ve been reading and thinking about Codex for many months, especially since I’ve discovered this forum. I’ve read all kinds of interesting strategy discussions regarding the relative merits of certain cards, and other topics - but I’ve not noticed any discussion on what to me seems perhaps the single-most important decision you will make in a game of Codex, but also one of the most mysterious. I refer to the choice of which spec to choose when you build your Tech 2.

Now, I know that there are plenty of popular multicolour builds which are designed to work with one particular Tech 2 choice, with the other 2 specs chosen because of synergies from their spells and/or Tech 1s. For example, from what I can pick up from watching PBF games, the expert’s favourite choice of Past/Peace/Anarchy always goes with Peace for Tech 2, for the Garrison/Drill Sergeant combo, while the other specs play a supporting role with strong spells and heros, as well as probably the two best Tech 3s in the game if needed to finish off. But if you’re playing monocolor, or a slightly less focused multi-color, how do you decide which of your 3 specs to specialise in at Tech 2? All will have some really strong stuff which can win you the game if not answered correctly, but of completely different types - which will you go for?

And you usually have to make this decision pretty early. It’s normal to build your Tech 2 on turn 4, and is possible as early as turn 3 if you’re player 2. And depending on how close you are to a reshuffle and how many cards you’re drawing, you often want to start teching Tech 2 stuff at the end of turn 2 (locked in at the start of turn 3). So you really have very little to base this decision on - a decision on which the fate of the whole game can potentially turn. One player will have a slight advantage in knowing which spec the opponent chose, although this may not compensate for getting to Tech 2 after the opponent (although clearly much here depends on the precise timing of reshuffles, as well as how immediate an impact your Tech 2s will have on the board state). Other than that, you’ve only got how your opponent played for a couple of turns where you only saw starting deck cards and perhaps a couple of Tech 1 units or teched spells. So what do you actually base this decision on? To be more concrete, say you’re playing monored against monogreen (or vice versa). What makes you decide to build Blood Tech 2 as opposed to Fire or Anarchy? If you normally build Blood, say, because it’s simply stronger (if this is true it would be sad for the game’s replayability imo), is there anything the opponent might do that could sometimes cause you to make a different choice? (Concrete examples of this from any matchup are welcomed. It doesn’t have to be red v green, or even monocolor.)

And I’m curious, when people design their “personal” choices of 3 specs to play with, is it always designed with a particular Tech 2 choice in mind, or does anyone play a “deck” where there are 3 specs all of which could be a viable choice at Tech 2, and you expect to make that decision based on the particular circumstances of each game?

Basically, I’m asking because, at this early stage of my learning, and still playing monocolor (although there are a couple of multicolor decks of my own design that I’m thinking about), the choice of which spec to go with feels more or less completely arbitrary to me. “I went with Balance the last 2 times I played green, let’s try Growth now for a change.” So I would value the insight of any experienced player as to what factors are actually relevant in this decision, if you’re trying to win as well as just to have fun. I hope this may lead to some really interesting strategy discussion which could get close to the heart of what this game is actually about :smiley:

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Part of what you identify is the difference between mono and multi colour. Imo, multi colour is typically built around a specific goal: a dominant opener/early game, or a devastating end game. Mono colour is more about flexibility/broad responsiveness.

That said, I consider White the colour I am most experienced with, and I don’t really understand the different tech decisions. I would definitely say a component of the decision is about playing against a colour, and there is probably a bit of playing against a specific spec within a colour. Like Discipline is very good against Black or Purple, for instance.

I don’t think that “Discipline is best against Black and Purple” means that “Discipline is the strongest/only competitive spec” though. There is also definitely a difference in spec choice based on P1 and P2.

For now, I would suggest that “I’ll try spec B this time” is fine. How else are you going to internalize the differences between your spec choices if not by experimenting with them? Having a theory is good but you will only prove your theory (or have it disproven) through experimentation, observation, and reflection.

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I would also caution you not to think that an incorrect tech decision = a loss. It can certainly make things harder for you, but you cannot expect to counter your opponents tech choice in every game. The experience you gain from “picking the wrong tech” is critical for competition and, casually, can be a very interesting puzzle!

Can you make up the difference by trading better? By capitalizing on misplays better? By bringing in a tech lab to course correct? By focusing on a hero based strategy? Your tech decision is one decision, and a far reaching one - but so is leaving a crucial hero vulnerable, for example.

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Here is a good way to decide on what tech 2 to pick: which of these is going to make my opponent look at me and say “that’s bullshit!”

This should be the guiding principle of any multi-colour build: find the most heinous bullshit you can, and figure out how you can realistically inflict it on your opponent.

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What tech 2 parh best complements how the first 2 turns went? I’ve found that the random distribution of starter deck cards between hand 1 and hand 2 (on both sides) makes a big difference in how the first couple turns go, which in turn influences which Tech 2 path will be best.

For example, as mono-black, are you in a skeleton strategy (go Necromancy), a Metamorphosis strategy (probably go Disease), or do you still have Jandra in play (Demonology)? Is your opponent mono-red (Demonology very bad), mono-green (Demonology good at Tech 3), or mono-purple (you want disease if controlling, or Demons to press aggression)

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Eric - coming from the best player around here (and perhaps anywhere), your words are very welcome in response to me, but also leave me realising yet again how little I know about this game. You make a number of comments in passing as if they are obvious, and no doubt they are to you and other top players - but it is not at all clear to this beginner why, for example, Demonology is “very bad” against mono-red. I mean, of course monored does a lot of hasty in-your-face damage, but Demonology has some gigantic units so I’d have thought you’d be much less worried about taking an unexpected 4 or 5 damage to something than you would be with other specs. I expect one could write a good few paragraphs about each of the situations you mention so briefly!

By no means is this reply intended as a criticism, it is if anything expressing frustration at my own lack of understanding. I value all nuggets of information on Codex strategy which you can give, and am humbly hoping you might offer some more :slight_smile:

It’s bad because red is going to have one or more Chaos Mirror and/or Kidnapping in their deck most of the time, and you do not want your Dozer or Golem targeted by either (and Voidblocker is a losing strategy, even though it does block reasonably well against some red plans.)

Also, I’m only in the running for best asychronous player. We have no Idea how good the best actual playtesters are.

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I’ve been trying to promote a theory of deck design for multicolor that says a multicolor plan with multiple viable hero + tech2 combinations is going to be strictly better than a multicolor deck with a single obvious synergy. Because when you telegraph your intentions so strongly, it gives your opponents time to formulate a counter play before the game. Of course when that synergy is really strong and really well executed it’s still going to be really hard to beat but eventually the meta will surpass one trick decks because someone will devise a devastating counter. But that counter will take setup, so if you can make that setup a 50/50 instead of a sure thing, your chances are already that much better.

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As an anecdote, I have been playing [Growth]/Strength/Demonology a great deal lately. Against friends (who, admittedly, are not the best of the best), it can get frustrating for them because of how many avenues of attack I can use.